Autistic People And Audio Sensory Overload: How to Deal with it
While you and I might not give a hoot to all the noises, the hustle and bustle of town or even village life, there is that autistic person who is so much perturbed by all the hullabaloo and noises. And they cannot hide that the noises are distracting them. They lack focus and cannot concentrate on anything; at least not with all that noise. What happens is that autistic people usually have audio sensory overload; they are overstimulated by light, touch and even sounds. So they will not be able to ignore the blaring of car horns on the roads, kids chatting animatedly and cheering at school or even disco music. So to avoid all these, they will tend to block their ears with their hands, run away from the noise or fidget anxiously showing you that they are not comfortable at all. The worst case scenario is when the child or autistic adults gets a meltdown.
As a parent of an autistic child, when you notice these characteristics, here as some things to do:
- Move the child from the noise as quickly as possible
- Look the kid straight in the face and calm them down. You could hug them and reassure them that everything is okay
- Stop the noise as quickly as possible if you can. If for example it is the radio blaring with music, then you could move with haste to turn the volume down or turn it off altogether.
- Block the child’s ears as you look for a way out.
In whatever you do, don’t reprimand the child because they are not throwing tantrums. They are just overwhelmed by the noise. Reprimanding them will only make them overreact and they could feel that you do not care.
Snug Headphones for Autism
Now to avoid all these and thanks to technology, we have some cool noise cancelling headphones that introduce an ambient secondary noise pleasant to the ears of the autistic individual and blocking the primary noise. The technology behind all these is known as active noise control. One of the most popular, lightweight and effective noise muffling earmuff is called snug headphones. Now a pair of snug headphones for autism will cut a very small dent into your pocket but you will love the snug fit onto your kid, soft padding as well as its NRR that shows that it is able to cut out as much noise as possible.
The only thing I did not like about the snug headphones for autism is that they are made from a rather feeble plastic material and are therefore to break with ease. But if you are buying for rather bigger children who will take care of them and will not go ahead dropping them or trying to see how brittle they are, then you can go ahead with it.
Where to use earplugs for autistic individuals
You will want to have your kid wearing the headphones in the noisiest of places including:
- School hallway
- Public transport bus
- Public cinemas
- School concert
Things to look out for when buying noise reduction headphones for autism
We have compiled a list of the things that you must look out for before buying your earmuffs for autism. So here they are:
- Noise reduction rating
The noise reduction rating is usually in decibels. We advise people to get one that has an NRR of between 20 to 26 decibels; anything less than 20 is not good enough and will not muffle the sounds, anything more than 26 is too much and could completely block even the most necessary of noises. Blocking noise is way different from reduction—when you reduce, you muffle the background noises so that the kid does not have sensory overload. When you block though, you are cancelling all noises so that the kid will not hear when you talk to them or even hear when a car is honking them to get off the road.
- Soft Padding
For children, you will require that they wear headphones that have soft padding so that the earmuffs does not cause them any discomfort.
- Clamping force
You want a headphone that will not cause any injury or pain on the wearer. So get one with low clamping force.
- Smooth edges
Related to the clamping force and soft padding, you want a headphone that will not cut or bruise your kid due to rough edges or sharp corners.
For the purposes of babies, you want headphones that are small but covering the ears while at the same time lightweight so that the kid does not feel the weight while walking around with them.